Mike Mondo recently spoke with Kayfabe Wrestling Studio about his time in the Spirit Squad, getting into wrestling and more. Check out the highlights:
On how he got into the business: "I've been a wrestling fan my whole life, pretty much. That being said, I went to a lot of independent shows, as well as WWE shows, growing up and this one random time I was front row at, I believe, a New York Wrestling Connection show, at least some of their trainers were there, and after the show, people were getting in there (the ring) and I was like ‘Heck, I want to get in there. I want to hit the ring; I want to run the ropes.' And one of the guys, a train, came up to me and they said are you looking become a pro wrestler? I was like ‘Yeah, I definitely want to, one day', but I was not done with high school at the time. He said, ‘why don't you come down to the school, here's my card. Check it out and see if it's what you want '. It just so randomly happened, at an independent show, that I had no idea that type of situation or opportunity you might say. So I went to the school, checked it out… there's two dreams I always wanted to have: be to be a profession football player and be a WWE wrestler."
On ring psychology and the larger business today: "In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, there is no right or wrong in wrestling; as long as you are telling a story, and what you are doing is making sense... Why does everything have to be the same cookie cutter? Dr. Tom gave me a great analogy; there are several different flavors of ice cream: I like chocolate, you guys like vanilla, and (Tommy) Dreamer likes strawberry. In the end, we all like wrestling, it's just different flavors. And there are so many fans out there, they just like to see certain things. WWE is more entertainment based, they attract more of the kids so that's their product that they're selling. Ring Of Honor sells a different product, because not only are we wrestling, we have martial arts in there, we have MMA, jujitsu, we got wrestling. We've got a little bit of everything."
On getting experience by working worldwide: "Yes, absolutely; my answer is absolutely yes. The more experience you have, the more beneficial it is for you, because again it gives you the opportunity to be different. Especially if, say an Australian guy comes to ROH and he works a certain way, Man, that is awesome because I haven't been to Australia and I didn't know how they work there; might be a little bit different, or Japan. But I can incorporate my style with your style and we can come up with a whole different match that different than anyone else on the card. The more experience you get, the better. Go anywhere you possibly can go, get that experience and be a sponge. Ask questions; learn as much as you can."
On his time with the Spirit Squad: "Originally, I wasn't scheduled to be in the Spirit Squad. It was supposed to be, Elijah was supposed to be that other guy, but I guess at some point he turned it down. For whatever reason, I don't know. So that opened up a spot; now, there were a lot of candidates for that spot and it happened to be right place, right time and luck. I was in New York and Dreamer called me and said ‘You're in New York, right?' and I told him yeah. He goes, ‘Can you be in New Jersey in the Continental Airlines Arena on Monday?' I told him ‘Hell yeah'. So he goes "alright, put some highlights and look as GQ as possible, I might have a spot for you in the Spirit Squad'. And I'm like ‘Wha, what?!' …You've got to realize, I was in a rutt in my career. I didn't know where I was going; what I was doing. I was starting to lose my confidence a bit, I was stalemated. So, when I heard this, it was like Wow, OK, some direction. So, I asked Dreamer, ‘Wait, what do you mean. How should I look?' He said ‘Like Nemeth (WWE's Dolph Ziggler)'. Just get blonde highlights. So I show up and Stephanie goes ‘Yep, that works. Looks good. I like it.' And then Johnny (Laurinaitis) comes up and goes ‘Do your best cheerleading impression' so I just busted out a cheer, like a cheerleader would do; upbeat, energetic, moving around dancing, busted out a cartwheel in catering. Everyone was like ‘who is this nut?' I mean, I wanted a damn job! So they put me and Kenny on the road that weekend at a couple of house shows, so that's how that started and I got the spot."